Monday, 26 Oct 2020

SNP accused of ‘wasting time’ after latest figures sparks fury – ‘What is going on?’

We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

Earlier this week, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said that Test and Protect are looking to increase the number of contact tracers – who track the spread of COVID-19 through the close contacts of positive cases – to around 1,000 by next week. However, Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes told the BBC’s Debate Night programme that Scotland has access to 2,000 staff members, describing assertions to the contrary as “inaccurate”.

The Scottish Government committed to training 2,000 tracers by June to support Test and Protect operations.

But Ms Freeman admitted on September 22 that just 874 people were trained to do the job.

Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats is pushing the Scottish Government to clarify how many contact tracers can be called upon.

An analysis by the party shows that 567 people last week waited longer than 48 hours to be contacted by Test and Protect.

 

Mr Rennie said: “Ministers reassured the public they could expand contact tracer capacity at the snap of their fingers and have double the number of staff in place in 48 hours.

“They told us they had access to 2,000 tracers.

“Weeks later we have new backlogs and the Health Secretary is scrabbling to get more staff. What is going on?

“Last week alone, government tracers failed to interview 567 people who had tested positive within 48 hours of Test and Protect logging their case.

“That’s up 1,400 percent on a month ago.

“If this was a fully functioning system as ministers claim then people wouldn’t be waiting on tracers calling about their contacts and whereabouts, and certainly not for more than three days.

“These dangerous delays show the system wasn’t ready to be ramped up like we were told.”

The Lib Dem leader accused Scottish ministers of “wasting” the time they were given over the summer, as the number of cases began to reduce as a result of lockdown measures.

DON’T MISS:
Scottish border panic: Nicola Sturgeon admits plans to restrict travel [REVEAL]  
Sturgeon attacks Boris for prioritising Brexit over COVID [INSIGHT]
Nicola Sturgeon to BAN English visitors to Scotland in just days [LATEST]

Mr Rennie added: “As we head into a dangerous second wave of this virus, people are right to ask why this system wasn’t strengthened sooner.

“Ministers wasted the time given to them over summer through the public’s efforts.

“They must remedy this quickly and ensure the Test and Protect system has the staff it needs to respond to demand and now interview people within hours, not days.”

In response, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “We set a target of having 2,000 contact tracers available by the end of May – and we met it – with contact tracers drawn partly from existing NHS staff who could be redeployed.

“Staffing levels are flexed to match expected demand, though this has fluctuated due to backlogs in receiving test results from the Lighthouse Labs.

“Over the last seven days an average of 700 whole-time equivalent staff have been rostered on shift on a daily basis and this will grow to around 1,000 over the coming days.

“If required, overall capacity can be significantly increased at short notice, should that be necessary.

“In the last week to October 11, 3,377 individuals – 94 percent – with a positive test result completed their interview with a contract tracer within 48 hours of being added to the Case Management System.”


Source: Read Full Article